Angola: Mass forced evictions must stop

Amnesty International published a report today (12 November 2003) calling on the Angolan government to put an immediate moratorium on the mass forced evictions which have seen more than 5,000 houses demolished in the capital Luanda since 2001 and at least two people killed as families were forced from their homes by police and eviction squads.

Angola: Mass forced evictions in Luanda - a call for a human rights-based housing policy says the evictions in the Boavista, Soba Kapassa and Benfica areas of Luanda between 2001 and 2003 were arbitrary and often carried out at gun-point. Although some families were promptly given alternative housing, thousands were forced to live in tents. Many remain without alternative housing.

During the first week of evictions in Boavista two people were killed and many others injured after police opened fire. Residents reported that during these evictions some of them were beaten by members of the provincial government's eviction and demolition squad. Incidents of beating were also reported in Benfica and Soba Kapassa.

Thousands evicted from Boavista in 2001 lived in weather-beaten tents until about half were re-housed in mid-2003. Most Benfica evictees were re-housed but suffered loss of employment or schooling. Former Soba Kapassa residents received no compensation at all.

Forced evictions violate human rights. They undermine the right to adequate housing and subject people to arbitrary or unlawful interference with their privacy, family and home. They are also forbidden by international human rights treaties to which Angola is a party.

The report examines the evictions in Luanda and discusses current Angolan law in the light of international human rights standards on the right to adequate housing and the right not to be forcibly evicted. It also suggests strategies for enhancing protection against forced evictions and for taking steps to fulfil ensuring the right to adequate housing.

The Angolan government is trying to address the needs of millions of city dwellers living in unplanned settlements without adequate access to such utilities as clean drinking water, sanitation, electricity, schools and clinics. However, forced evictions for the purpose of making land available for development or for any other purpose is not a solution to the problem.

Amnesty International said: 'The Angolan government should place an immediate moratorium on mass evictions until such time as a comprehensive human rights-based housing policy and a legal framework providing effective legal remedies have been adopted.'

It is crucial that new policies and laws accord fully with international human rights standards. As a basic protection against forced eviction, the government should take immediate steps to confer legal security of tenure on people who lack such protection and, as soon as possible, to develop legislation to prevent forced eviction.

The law should ensure that in cases where evictions are necessary, they should be carried out with full legal and other protection and due process. The state should provide alternative accommodation for those who are unable to provide for themselves.

For the full report in English, please go to: http://www.web.amnesty.org/library/index/engafr1200703

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